|Friday, 18 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 25, 2005
 S. African president Mbeki arrives in Athens, meets with Stephanopoulos
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)South African president Thabo Mbeki arrived in Athens on Thursday on a three-day state visit, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos.
Mbeki and Stephanopoulos reviewed the Greek Presidential Guard (evzones) at the formal welcoming ceremony in central Athens, before their talks.
The two presidents were joined by delegations from their respective countries after their private discussion.
After the talks, Stephanopoulos and Mbeki stressed the need to strengthen the economic and commercial relations between Greece and South Africa, and also for greater EU commitment to Africa's economic growth.
Stephanopoulos also stressed the need for cooperation among the countries of the northern hemisphere, the EU and other countries for the development of Africa so as to be able to keep its population at home, instead of immigrating to Europe.
Europe, he said, had a legal and moral obligation to assist Africa, due to its presence there, from which only Europe benefited.
Mbeki, in turn, called for greater support from the European Union for Africa's development, and stressed that Greece was a voice in Europe that championed support for the African continent.
Mbeki further referred to the new developmental program for Africa, with the participation of the EU, the 7 richest countries of the world and the EU, the implementation of which he described as "a challenge".
President Stephanopoulos hosts official dinner in honor of South African counterpart Mbeki: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday night confirmed that Greece is confronting with "a serious sense of responsibility" its capacity as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in the current two years and stressed that " it will do everything possible for the upgrading of this major organization, guard of international legal order and international law, supporting its urgent reform, including the broadening of the Security Council."
Stephanopoulos made this confirmation in an address during the official dinner he hosted in honor of South African President Thabo Mbeki who is in an official visit to Greece. At the same time, Stephanopoulos noted the great importance which Greece gives to the close cooperation with this country of Africa.
The Greek president hailed the progress in South Africa in all sectors, as well as Mbeki's decisive contribution on this issue. He also referred to the issue of terrorism and the effort to smooth the situation in Iraq and the Middle East.
"Greece has condemned all the terrorist acts, as it also strongly condemned the recent one in Lebanon and believes that the struggle against terrorism, which concerns all of us, cannot be viewed as a difference between cultures, religion or peoples. The solution of the Palestinian problem will allow its effective combatting," the Greek president said.
The President of the Republic also referred to Athens-Ankara relations and expressed the hope that "the positive impetus registered in our bilateral relations with Turkey, as well as its European prospects which we support, will contribute to the reform of Turkish foreign policy in the direction which suit more in the two neighborly friendly countries."
On the Cyprus issue, Stephanopoulos reiterated that Athens' steadfast position is the finding of an agreed, just and functional solution to the problem, under the auspices of the United Nations, on the basis of the Security Council resolutions and the Annan Plan and compatible with the fundamental principles of the European Union.
Finally, in reference to the situation in southeast Europe, Stephanopoulos expressed the evaluation that this has "fortunately greatly improved." He added that Greece actively supports the request of the countries of the region to enter the Euro-Atlantic institutions, believing that in this way the security and democracy in the entire region will be finally consolidated.
South African president meets with Parliament president and leaders of the Left: Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa met with Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Thursday. Both parties stressed the need to strengthen parliamentary relations between the two countries.
Mbeki promised that he will soon send an official invitation to the members of the Greece-South Africa Friendship group to visit South Africa and meet with MPs in the country in order to help in the democratization of the Republic.
On her part, Psarouda-Benaki stressed that Greece has always maintained excellent relations with the entire African continent and is interested in contributing to its democratization by cooperating with national parliaments.
"We are a new democracy and I am certain that we can learn a lot from the Greek parliament in terms of reinforcing parliamentary democracy," Mbeki said.
The South African president also referred to the Cyprus problem, emphasizing that his country is clearly opposed to the Turkish occupation.
Psarouda-Benaki noted that Cyprus is the only country in Europe which is divided, occupied and where human rights are not respected.
Mbeki also met separately with Aleka Papariga, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and Alekos Alavanos, President of Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party later in the afternoon.
Mbeki discussed the important changes that South Africa has undergone as well as relations between South Africa and Greece.
Papariga did not make any comments after her meeting with Mbeki.
Alavanos, who met with him afterwards, said that he had had an interesting meeting with the South African president, noting that South Africa has been successful in its political and social reforms.
Mbeki arrived in Athens on Thursday on a state visit, at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos.
 FM Molyviatis meets with Turkey's EU Conciliation committee chairman Yakis
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis met Thursday with visiting chairman of the Turkish National Assembly's EU Conciliation Committee and former foreign minister Yassar Yakis.
The two men discussed matters related to Turkey's harmonization with the EU.
Yassar Yakis, President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly's EU Harmonization Committee, expressed Ankara's gratitude to Athens for its support of Turkey's EU accession efforts, in comments he made to journalists on Thursday.
Yakis, who met with Greek parliamentary officials and with Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, said he was satisfied with his visit to Greece. He also noted that after Greece withdrew its objections, Turkey's road to the EU is wide open. However, Yakis said that Greece was not Turkey's obstacle to the EU, but rather has assisted and offered its own experience for Turkey's benefit.
Asked to comment on the Cyprus issue, Yakis said that when Turkey decided to encourage Turkish Cypriots in the Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus regarding the Annan Plan (the plan drafted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan), a new situation arose following the April 2004 referendum, "and we see that Greece appreciated Turkey's stance," he said.
Asked whether Turkey would wait for the Cyprus problem to be resolved before recognizing the Republic of Cyprus, Yakis pointed out that he does not participate in the government, but as former foreign minister he has ''the impression that Turkey will extend its customs union agreement to the bloc of the 10 new, EU member-states, including Cyprus, before October 3, when Turkey is scheduled to begin negotiations with the EU.'' However, Yakis added, this does not mean 'official' recognition.
On the issue of Greek-Turkish relations, Yakis said that tangible improvements had been made, citing the 26 bilateral agreements the two countries have signed and which concern various sectors (e.g., economic relations, taxation, investment guarantees, culture, etc.).
 Gov't responds to PASOK leader's comment; fields questions on Church issues
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)A government spokesman on Thursday again answered a barrage of press questions regarding an ongoing corruption furor that has enveloped the highest echelons of the Church of Greece and even reached as far as the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros merely reiterated that the "government has said all it has to say about the issue."
Asked about recent statements by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou -- who cited what he claimed was "collusion" between the ruling party and "a portion of the Church" over a pre-election incident that saw several boxes of defamatory pamphlets against him discovered at a central Athens post office -- the spokesman reminded that the incident was investigated thoroughly and resolved.
"What Mr. Papandreou must decide is what allegations, out of the ones he has cited from time to time, actually exist," Antonaros added.
Finally, he reiterated that the government expects the Church to promote bold measures aimed at eliminating corruption within its own ranks.
 Gov't retains public confidence, ND's Meimarakis says
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)"The government continues to enjoy citizens' confidence, despite all that the [main opposition] PASOK leader is trying to accuse us of," Vangelis Meimarakis, Secretary of New Democracy's Central Committee said, following a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at Maximos Mansion on Thursday.
He added that "the margin [between the two parties] remains the same as it was during the elections; we will watch and learn and improve."
Asked whether Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos should resign after recent developments which implicate him in the bribery and corruption scandals surrounding the Greek Church, Meimarakis did not respond. Speaking to journalists later, Meimarakis said that the issue at hand is for people not to lose faith in Christianity.
On the issue of the primary shareholder law, which aims to disentangle vested interests in the media and public sectors and to which the EU has voiced some opposition, Meimarakis said there is no risk of Greece losing EU funds as a result of the new legislation.
During the meeting, Karamanlis and Meimarakis discussed the party's activities in the immediate future. Thus, it is most likely that the party's Central Committee will convene on March 18-19. From March 4-6, ministers and ND MPs will be touring the country and attending various events nationwide.
 Gov't comments on illegal visit to T/C pseudo-state by corporate reps
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Athens on Thursday reiterated that both the Greek and Cypriot governments are proceeding with all the necessary measures to avert any possible upgrading of the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied areas of northern Cyprus.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis made the statement in response to a tabled question in Parliament by Communist Party (KKE) deputy Orestis Kolozov. The latter referred, in his question, to a recent visit by representatives of US companies to the occupied territories via an illegal airport in the north.
"Cyprus, which in the past found itself in a very difficult situation, is now in the European Union and has become a judge of Turkey's (behavior). This is something that we cannot downgrade," he said.
Valinakis added that Athens and Nicosia are calmly and quietly taking every measure so that such developments, ostensibly aimed at upgrading the pseudo-state's standing, are neutralized.
Moreover, he said no US citizens were part of the group that arrived for the controversial visit, instead, participants were Turkish representatives of US companies in Turkey.
 PM Karamanlis meets with New Democracy MPs
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis continued his individual meetings with members of New Democracy's Parliamentary group on Thursday.
Specifically, he met with Elsa Papadimitriou, Costas Tassoulas, Michalis Yiannakis, Athina Korka, Ariadne Manoussou-Binopoulou, Simos Kedikoglou, Yiannis Kourakou and Xenophon Verginis.
All the MPs, after their private meetings with the prime minister, said that they discussed issues related to their constituencies. They all agreed that Karamanlis is up-to-date on issues and said that solutions will be provided to matters that are currently pending.
While the MPs were asked by members of the press about the Church crisis, they said that the matter was not discussed with the prime minister.
 Papaligouras represents Greece at EU justice ministers' council
BRUSSELS 25/2/2005 (ANA)Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras represented Athens here at Thursday's EU justice and home affairs ministers' council, which convened to examine a legal framework to combat racism and the European-wide arrest warrant regime.
On his part, Papaligouras referred to the need for coordinated action by member-states to fight the constantly increasing scourge of racism, while he also referred to the need for dealing with the use of symbols of racism and xenophobia.
 Tension in 53rd Assembly of the Joint Parliamentary Committee 'EU-Turkey'
PARIS 25/2/2005 (ANA/O. Tsipira)Religion, Armenia and Cyprus were the three issues which prevailed in the meetings of the 53rd Assembly of the Joint Parliamentary Committee ""EU-Turkey" which concluded in Strasbourg on Thursday.
During a press conference which closed the sessions, Dutch Committee President Joost Lagendijk explained that the meetings of the Joint Committee constitute a platform of dialogue and not a space of decision-taking.
"It is an opportunity for the Turkish deputies to understand why the European Parliament continues to pressure for a solution to the Cyprus issue, or for a recognition of the genocide of the Armenians. At the same time, it was useful for the European deputies to see better how the Turks deal with the issues and the solutions which could found. From this point of view our meeting was successful, not because we reached some conclusions, but because we understood and saw where the problems are exactly located and on which we will talk about in the future," Lagendijk said."
The problems appeared from the first hours of the meeting, creating tension in the atmosphere, something which outraged certain Eurodeputies, such as the German (of Turkish origin) Vural Oger, to declare that "they poisoned the dialogue."
French Eurodeputy Jacques Toubon asked whether the Council and the Commission would take into consideration, before a final decision on Turkey's EU accession is taken, a European Parliament resolution calling on Ankara to recognize the genocide of the Armenians.
Tension was also created by Cypriot Eurodeputy Marios Matsakis who claimed that Turkey is accountable for three genocides, of the Armenians, Kurds and Greeks.
 Anna Diamantopoulou on 'primary shareholder' law and Kosovo
BRUSSELS 25/2/2005 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)Anna Diamantopoulou, former European Commissioner and current main opposition PASOK MP, said that a warning from the EU regarding the 'primary shareholder' law, which aims to disentangle vested interests in the media and the public sector, may be forthcoming, in comments she made to Greek correspondents here on Thursday. However, she did not rule out the possibility of both sides striking a compromise.
Diamantopoulou told reporters that according to her sources, relevant EU agencies are already drafting the letter which she predicts will soon be sent to the Greek government.
According to Diamantopoulou, this development has serious connotations since most likely it will be followed by another EU commission decision which will freeze funds on projects that will be awarded based on the primary shareholder legislation. She also expressed concerns on Greece's delay in responding to a series of legal obligations in respect to the EU, which concern the execution of EU-funded projects (independent of the primary shareholder law).
However, she did not preclude the possibility of Athens and Brussels reaching a compromise on both issues, something that would benefit Greece, she said.
Diamantopoulou also met with European Commissioners Guenter Verheugen (DG Enterprise and Industry and Vice President), Benita Ferrero-Waldner (External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy) and Ollie Rehn (Enlargement). She said that after her meetings with the EU officials she deems necessary that Greek diplomacy present specific proposals regarding Kosovo and the FYROM name controversy.
 Premier Karamanlis congratulates new Portuguese prime minister Socrates
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis congratulated newly elected Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates in a letter on Thursday.
Karamanlis wished Socrates ''every success in his new tasks'' expressing at the same time his ''wish for a further strengthening of the already fruitful cooperation between the two countries, both on a bilateral level and within the EE.''
 Merchant Marine Minister Kefaloyiannis meets three ambassadors
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis met on Thursday with the ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey.
Discussed in the meeting with U.S. Ambassador Charles Ries were issues related to Kefaloyiannis' latest visit to the U.S. concerning the cooperation and strengthening of relations between the Greek Coast Guard and the American Coast Guard, as well as the exchange of information on narcotics, terrorism and other illegal activities.
With UK Ambassador Simon Gaas, issues were discussed in light of the assumption by the UK of the EU presidency. Reference was also made to the proposal submitted by Greece on the setting up of a European Coast Guard as well as on issues of cooperation for the protection of the sea environment.
With Turkish Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu, issues of good neighborliness were discussed as well as the restriction and confrontation of illegal immigration and the protection of the sea environment.
 Synaspismos leader receives Russian ambassador
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Russia's ambassador to Athens on Thursday reiterated that Moscow's position vis-a-vis the long-standing Cyprus problem remains unchanged.
Moreover, Amb. Andrei Vdoviv reportedly told Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos that his government stands by UN Resolution 1244 regarding the status of Kosovo, while he said Moscow remains committed to upgrading relations with Greece, especially in the trade sector.
Finally, the Russian envoy briefed Alavanos over plans for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in WWII.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The Turkish Air Force on Thursday again violated Greece's national air space over the Aegean.
According to press reports, seven formations of Turkish warplanes entered the Aegean and in 12 cases violated the national air space north of the island of Chios.
In all cases, the 22 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets, while in three instances the interception evolved into mock dog-fighting.
It was reported that four of the planes were armed.
 Gov't says five bids in Olympic Airlines' sale
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The future of Olympic Airlines was discussed on Thursday during a meeting between Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis and Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Transport Minister said that the government was proceeding with the second phase of an international tender to sell the national carrier and that a total of five bids have been submitted in the tender. Aegean Airlines and DBA, a German low fares carrier, have officially expressed interest in buying a majority stake in Olympic Airlines.
 Gov't presents policy on renewable energy sources
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The next step in the government's energy policy will be an integrated intervention in Renewable Energy Sources after completing a new regulatory framework to cover management of electricity energy, natural gas market and oil products, Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis said on Thursday.
Addressing a 3rd National Conference on Renewable Energy Sources "Prospects and priorities towards 2010", organized by the Metsovio Polytechnic School, Salagoudis said that he would submit to Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, this week, his proposals on reducing bureaucracy, securing investments, ensure social consensus and promoting new technologies. The Greek minister said that the ministry would continue procedures in drafting new regulations for the energy market.
Salagoudis said he was in full cooperation with the government's Agricultural Development ministry to clear all hurdles towards supporting the development of renewable energy sources in the country. He also said that a new regulatory framework over geothermy and bio-fuel was almost ready.
The Greek minister said that there were more than 800 MW of non-implemented projects in the renewable energy sector (mainly wind power and small hydroelectric units), despite the fact that they own an operating license. Salagoudis, however, expressed his optimism over a gradual improvement in the investment climate in Greece. He said that a report by Ernst & Young, placed Greece sixth in the world league based on the attractiveness index for wind power parks and eighth in renewable energy sources.
 Gov't lauds early retirement plan for OTE
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The government on Thursday hailed this week's unprecedented early retirement and pension reform agreement ironed out by the management of the bourse-listed and state-controlled telephony utility (OTE) and the trade union representing OTE's thousands of employees.
Between 4,000 and 6,000 OTE employees will be eligible for early retirement, whereas the plan is expected to easily top the 1.2 billion-euro mark.
"The measure ... ensures not only the viability of the (Hellenic Telecommunications) Organization but creates significant conditions for development. If this agreement had not been achieved we would have been in danger of quickly acquiring another Olympic Airways," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said, in reference to the debt-plagued and loss-making national air carrier.
Moreover, he said the agreement could act as a "blueprint" for reforming other major state-run entities within a framework of respecting employees' rights.
 Pensioners demand higher pension pay increases
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Greek pensioners' unions on Thursday urged the government for real pension increases, exceeding 10 percent, for the current year, a financial support of 500 euros for heating oil supply, a tax-exempt annual income of 15,000 and a freeze in all basic consumer products. They also demanded the state to pay its debt to pension funds and for free medicine.
Union representatives visited the Economy and Finance ministry on Thursday and arranged a meeting with Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis for next Wednesday, March 2.
 Northern Greece Industries Union in Eco Design program
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The European Information Center for Businesses of the Northern Greece Industries Union (SBBE) on Thursday announced its participation in the implementation of a new European program called Eco Design, aimed to promote environmental-friendly design of electronic and electric products.
The Eco Design program is funded by the EU's enterprises' general directorate and aims to brief and prepare electronic and electric goods manufacturers of the need for environmental-friendly design in the industry.
The program envisages a pan-European information campaign of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the electronic and electric goods sector, over new European legislation to be put in effect from 2006 over energy-consuming products, benefits from eco-design and integrating EU laws into national legislation.
The program will hold 28 laboratories in 20 countries around Europe in the period from April to September 2005. The European Information Center for Businesses of the Northern Greece Industries Union will hold its laboratory in May 13 in Thessaloniki.
 Government bill to parl't to spur cargo transit centers
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The government on Thursday sent a bill to parliament that aims to spur the creation and growth of transit centers linked to combined transportation wherever rail stations, ports or airports are located.
A vote on the bill is expected at the end of March on the basis of consensus among political parties, Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis told parliament.
 Alogoskoufis meets with Epirus deputies
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday received ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK deputies elected from voting precincts in mountainous Epirus province, northwest Greece.
Funding for infrastructure in the region as well as exploiting 3rd CSF funds dominated discussions.
The minister is expected to tour the region early next month.
 Greek cattle-breeding industry steadily shrinking
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The Greek cattle-breeding industry is inadequate to cover domestic demand with meat and milk imports surpassing oil and energy imports, in euro and US dollar terms, Greek veterinarians said on Thursday ahead of the 4th Panhellenic Conference of Productive Animals Veterinary, held in Thessaloniki.
Spyros Kyriakis, a veterinary professor at the University of Thessaloniki, said that "50 percent of cow milk and dairy products are imported, while self-sufficiency in beef is only 25 percent. The country is fully self-sufficient in milk and dairy products from sheep".
The Greek professor said that self-sufficiency in sheep meat totalled 85 percent, while in pork meat totalled 45 percent -from 85 percent in 1980- and poultry was down to 80 percent. "The only sector with favorable prospects is aquaculture, although prices are down recently and the industry lacks full hygiene transparency," professor Kyriakis said.
He said that prospects of the Greek market would heavily depend on transparency in all stages of production and manufacturing in the cattle-breeding industry.
"We will soon see products imported from cattle-breeding countries with full veterinary-hygiene certification "from the stable to the plate" and unless something similar happens to our country, Greek livestock product will disappear from the domestic market," the professor said.
 Stocks surge to hit four-year high
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher to hit a four-year high with players buying into blue chips due to healthy 2004 results posted by quoted firms, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,092.86 points, posting a rise of 1.24%. Turnover was 251.4 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.76% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.75% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.70% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 181 to 102 with 68 remaining unchanged.
 Alternate Culture Minister addresses BHCC conference on post-Games use of Olympic infrastructure
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia gave an overview of the complex task of utilizing Olympic infrastructure post-Games, the significance of the undertaking, and the tabling of a related bill in Parliament shortly, during a conference organized and hosted by the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (BHCC) at the Athens Hilton on Thursday.
Palli-Petralia outlined the government's goals in capitalizing on the legacy Greece inherited from the Athens Olympics as follows: to reinforce Greece's image abroad; to make Attica an attractive, year-round tourist destination; to attract foreign investment and know-how; to create new jobs; to improve city residents' quality of life; and to offer more and better choices for sports, recreation and culture to Athens residents and visitors alike.
She reiterated that Olympic installations will remain in the state's possession and that their management and utilization will be based on developmental - not strictly fiscal - criteria. Palli-Petralia also noted that all procedures will be transparent, conducted through "open, public, international tenders, defined by clear-cut conditions and requirements."
Olympic Properties SA President Christos Hadjiemmanouel also spoke at the conference, noting that the Greek taxpayers' contribution of ¬ 140 million is being put to good use, without political discrimination, in order to meet real, public and social needs.
 GSEE's Center for the Development of Educational Policy to convene in Athens on Friday
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and President of the General Confederation of the Employees of Greece (GSEE) Christos Polyzogopoulos, will be opening the two-day European Conference of GSEE's Centre for the Development of Educational Policy, which begins in Athens on Friday.
Trade union members, academics and political officials from numerous European countries will be participating.
The GSEE's ''labor academy'' will begin operating as an Institute of Trade Union Education in September. The curriculum will comprise 320 hours of instruction over the course of an academic year. Union officials will have to follow 10 mandatory subjects and can choose two electives. In order to graduate, they will have to take exams.
The academy will be housed in Gazi, in a building that will be made available by the Municipality of Athens. Academy instructors will not be paid, while union officials will be able to attend after obtaining special union permission.
 Upgrading of the National Health System
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The new draft law which the Health Ministry is expected to table in Parliament in mid-March and concerns the reform of the National Health System (ESY) includes important changes.
The new draft law which was made public on Thursday foresees the abolition of 17 regional health councils which operated these past three years without being deemed flexible and effective. Founded in their place will be 17 administrations for the country's major health regions. Each administration will include a center for the facilitation of citizens on health issues which will be able to grant certificates, but also accept requests by the insured for appointments for other services.
 One first instance judge fired, another suspended by Supreme Court
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)One first instance judge was permanently fired on Thursday and another suspended following separate rulings by the Supreme Court's plenum.
The fired justice was identified as Thebes first instance judge G. Papadoukakis. Unwarranted delays in issuing decisions for several cases, including one involving former magistrate Katerina Bourboulia -- who handled more than a dozen investigations into stock market scams -- were cited.
Additionally, first instance judge Antonia Ilia was suspended for not filing 'statements of means and income' between 2001-2003.
The latter has already been charged in that case and has been prohibited from leaving the country.
 World SAE contributes $1 million worth of relief aid to tsunami victims
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) will be contributing $1 million worth of medicine and medical supplies to the victims of the tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.
The aid is meant to "...help tsunami victims fight disease and rebuild their shattered lives," according to the press release.
"Coordinating this shipment with His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of Hong Kong and the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), SAE was able to leverage this million dollar donation with the help of its fellow non-governmental organization (NGO) in Washington, DC, Counterpart International. Counterpart assists with procuring medicines for the Primary Health Care Initiative (PHCI), the medical and humanitarian relief program founded by [SAE President] Andrew Athens in 1997," the press release stated.
 Sports minister meets with HOC President, EPAE leadership and FIM President
Athens, 25/2/2005 (ANA)"A new era is dawning with Minos Kyriakou at the helm of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC)," Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sports George Orfanos said after meeting with the newly-elected HOC President on Thursday.
"We agreed with Mr. Kyriakou that after the Athens Olympic Games, we must redefine our goals, continue on the positive course Greek sports is following, and mainly, to find channels so that young kids can choose and participate in the sport they like," Orfanos said.
The deputy minister also said that the state and HOC will be working together in order to design a four-year plan, and will subsequently focus on sports in schools and the workplace. "Generally speaking, our efforts are aimed at giving a new dimension to Greek sports," he added.
Kyriakou, on his part, stated that "I predict that I will have a very close cooperation with the state, which can only result in benefiting young kids in relation to sports."
Orfanos also met with Alexandros Lykourezos, President of the Union of Soccer Clubs (EPAE), and Victor Mitropoulos, EPAE Vice President. During their meeting, the three discussed the issues of violence at soccer games, doping, soccer clubs' finances and generally the restructuring of professional soccer.
Finally, Orfanos also met with Francesco Zerbi, President of the International Motorcycle Federation (FIM), who was accompanied by Vassilis Despotopoulos, President of the road assistance agency ELPA. The objective of the meeting was to discuss FIM's proposal to create a national motorcycle federation which would operate under the auspices of ELPA. Orfanos requested that a specific proposal be submitted in writing. According to Despotopoulos, the proposal will be based on federations already operating in Spain and Germany.
 Cyprus to report occupation army enhancement to EU
NICOSIA 25/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Minister of Defense Kyriakos Mavronicolas said on Thursday that the government's aim was to condemn to the EU the strengthening of the Turkish occupation army on the island, taking into consideration the longstanding Greek Cypriot side's proposals to reduce tension.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Mavronicolas said the decision to send additional weaponry from Turkey to Cyprus during the ''parliamentary election'' period in the Turkish occupied areas was not linked to the ''elections'' but rather with ''any renewed effort for talks that would lead to a Cyprus settlement.''
Replying to questions, Mavronicolas noted that the armaments sent to the Turkish occupied areas from Turkey were not intended as replacements but additional weaponry to enhance the occupation army.
He explained one could not say that bringing a sophisticated military system to replace a 1950's vehicle was a mere replacement of old equipment, noting that this is what happened in the Turkish occupied areas.
''There have been specific reports on behalf of the Ministry, with photographic material, which showed the unloading in Cypriot territory of state-of-the-art American weaponry,'' Mavronicolas added, noting that these reports covered a long period leading up to last week's so-called parliamentary elections in the puppet regime and the referendum on a UN solution plan held in April 2004.
He said the systems shown in the photographs were American tanks that could go into battle under any conditions.
The minister noted that the government would be reporting this strengthening of the occupation army on a European level and would show ''the opposite view and the opposite actions of the Turkish army and the Turkish political leadership.''
 Greek Cypriot side ready for negotiations under UN auspices
NICOSIA 25/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Greek Cypriot side is ready to resume negotiations for a final settlement of the Cyprus problem, under UN auspices and the Secretary General's good offices, Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Monday.
''Our side is ready to engage in a process and resume negotiations for a final settlement of the Cyprus problem, in the UN framework and on the basis of the formula traditionally adopted by the UN since the beginning of negotiations,'' the spokesman said, when asked to comment on statements by the Turkish premier about convening a meeting of the leaders of the island's two communities and the guarantor powers.
Recalling remarks on this issue, Chrysostomides said the Greek Cypriot side is ready to resume negotiations for a Cyprus settlement ''always under the aegis of the UN, with the Secretary General's good offices and on the basis of negotiations between the two communities.''
Asked about a possible five-party meeting, Chrysostomides said that he did not think such a meeting was on the cards for the time being.
''What we want is to see a process begin within the UN framework,'' he added.
Invited to comment on a statement by Tayyip Erdogan that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos did not submit in writing a request to meet him, the spokesman replied :''no-one has said that a written request was ever submitted.''
Papadopoulos has communicated his wish to meet with Erdogan but this was turned down by the Turkish premier. Erdogan in return proposed a five-party meeting (the three guarantor powers of Cyprus' independence - Greece, Turkey and Britain - and the leaders of the two communities on the island) for what he called ''the coffee of peace.''